Artists need to make a living, just like any other professional. The idea that art should be free is gross and misguided. You pay your plumber to unclog your toilet and you pay a carpenter for custom-made furniture. Why would illustration be any different? It's a skill that takes time and dedication to develop and it should be compensated accordingly!
There's always going to be somebody who doesn't like your art. But there's also going to be somebody who loves it. People just have different tastes. So the best thing you can do is not take it personally and stay true to yourself.
You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there's still going to be somebody who hates peaches. ― Dita Von Teese
There's enough room for everyone. Share their work and show them some love. You're not running out of likes!
We can get wrapped up in our goals and wishes that we don't even take a moment to pause and look back at the things we have accomplished. When you review the past year, quarter or month, it's crazy how much you made happen. Give yourself a pat on the back and treat yo self because you deserve it!
I think the most important thing that has saved me from art block so far is my process. After years of being a full-time artist (one of which I did client work), I developed a bullet-proof way of walking through an illustration - from start to finish. I can always rely on it, even if I don't have any ideas before I sit down. But as soon as I start going through the motions, things fall into place.
Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.
― Pablo Picasso
I described my process in detail in this interview with TOR. Of course, this is MINE. Yours might look entirely different and it's up to you to figure it out.
Learning the distiction between The art you like looking at and the art you make is incredibly helpful in building your confidence! Let's say your work is highly stylised and cartoony, but everytime you see a realistic painting, you feel like you should rather be doing THAT.
But if you're clear about who you are as an artist (what your influences are and how they reflect in your work), you can look at other art styles with admiration rather than jealousy or guilt. Learn to stay true to yourself and don't go chasing everything you see.
Of course, experiment and play, but don't try to become someone else.
Take everything with a grain of salt. And yes, that includes this blog, too. If something I'm saying does not apply to you, that's perfectly fine! Just take what you need and leave the rest.
I've come to learn that people always tell you what works for THEM, and more often than not, they make it sound like hard and fast rules. Guess who's going to tell you that you absolutely HAVE to keep a sketchbook? - Those artists that are naturally very good at keeping sketchbooks.